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Williams v. Freeman

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 19, 2015

WARREN WILLIAMS, # M40803, Plaintiff,
v.
MR. FREEMAN, MR. KIDWELL, TRAVIS PIPER, and MR. DEAN, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge:

Plaintiff Warren Williams, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against four Lawrence officials, including Lieutenant Freeman, Sergeant Kidwell, Officer Piper, and Officer Dean. In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that these officials subjected him to excessive force on August 6, 2014. Plaintiff now sues them for violating his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments (Doc. 1, pp. 10-15). He also sues Officers Piper and Dean for conspiring to assault him in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985 (Doc. 1, p. 16). Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment and monetary damages (Doc. 1, p. 14).

Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Plaintiff’s complaint survives preliminary review under this standard.

The Complaint

According to the complaint, Plaintiff threatened to spit on one of Lawrence’s correctional officers, Officer Piper, on August 6, 2014 (Doc. 1, p. 5). He admits making the threat. But Plaintiff alleges that he never actually followed through with it.

Plaintiff’s threat prompted a severe beating. Within thirty minutes of making the threat, Plaintiff was handcuffed and escorted to a shower in the segregation building at Lawrence. Sergeant Kidwell and Officer Dean entered the shower, removed Plaintiff’s handcuffs, conducted a strip search, and ordered him to get dressed. They handcuffed him behind his back.

Officer Dean then stepped into the shower and said, “Piper told me to beat your b*tch *ss, n*gger!” (Doc. 1, p. 6). As Sergeant Kidwell stood watching, Officer Dean struck Plaintiff repeatedly in the head, neck, arms, and torso with his two closed fists. All the while, he repeated, “[S]o you like to spit on c/o’s do you?” Officer Dean then slammed Plaintiff down head first onto the shower floor and continued hitting him. Plaintiff sustained multiple injuries to his head, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists and torso (Doc. 1, pp. 5-7).

Sergeant Kidwell, who stood watching, eventually called Officer Dean’s name three times and ordered him to stop hitting Plaintiff. He instructed Officer Dean to take Plaintiff to an unoccupied cell in segregation. Officer Dean attached a lead chain to Plaintiff’s handcuffs and pulled him violently, “practically dragging [P]laintiff backwards” to the cell (Doc. 1, p. 6). After shoving Plaintiff into the cell, the officer proceeded to strike Plaintiff “at least ten (10) more times, causing further injuries before finally uncuffing” him. Before exiting the cell, Officer Dean explained that the beating was “strictly business, ” but would happen again if Plaintiff threatened to spit on an officer, hit an officer, or told anyone about the beating. At all times during the incident, Plaintiff was handcuffed and screaming for help (Doc. 1, p. 7).

Plaintiff requested medical attention on August 6, 2014, but did not receive it until the following day[1] (Doc. 1, p. 8). Officer Dean approached him two days later and revealed that he was aware that Plaintiff had reported the incident. Plaintiff has since had nightmares about the events that occurred on August 6, 2014.

Plaintiff submitted multiple requests for an investigation into the incident. He directed these requests to Lieutenant Freeman, but the lieutenant has never spoken with Plaintiff about his complaints. Officer Dean has a known history of abusing inmates, and Plaintiff alleges that Lieutenant Freeman knows this and failed to take steps to protect him from Officer Dean’s attack (Doc. 1, p. 9).

Plaintiff now sues Defendants Freeman, Piper, Dean, and Kidwell for declaratory judgment and monetary damages (Doc. 1, p. 14). He also asks that Defendants be referred for prosecution (Doc. 1, p. 2).

Discussion

The Court finds it appropriate to organize the claims in Plaintiff’s pro se complaint into four separate counts that are consistent with Plaintiff’s characterization of each claim in the pleading. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The ...


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